We’ve all felt the rush of adrenaline, but only a select few of us are at our best when the hormone starts pumping through our bodies.
Earlier this week, Robb Report deputy editor Josh Condon sat down with retired Navy SEAL Hector Delgado, motorcycle racer Rennie Scaysbrook and famed gambler Billy Walters at House of Robb at the Wynn Las Vegas to talk about how they deal with the high-stress situations their careers have put them in. Across the board the answer was the same: It’s all about putting in the work to make sure you’re ready.
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“It’s work ethic,” Delgado said. “It’s work you do with your team. And then that’s knowing that you may need more work in certain areas and spending an extra day or extra hour in the gym, or at the shooting range, working on your individual skills.”
Delgado, who’s a board member of the Navy SEAL museum and works with the watchmaker Panerai, said that a huge part of his time as part of the special forces unit was preparing for anything and everything. This is why he was able to survive being dragged into 120 feet of water after a submarine he was working on unexpectedly dove deep. Because of his training, he knew exactly what to do to reach the surface quickly without getting the bends.
The Navy put Delgado and his fellow SEALS through so much so that they were able to push towards their goal no matter what happened. “I’ve been shot at; it’s not fun,” Delgado said. “Guys next to me have been shot and hit, they’re not falling down. They’re fighting through it. Because your mind is so much stronger than your body. You have to be able to manifest it in advance—this is what we’re going to do, this is how I’m going to do this.”
Scaysbrook may have never been shot at, but racing has put him in plenty of danger. The rider, who holds the Pikes Peak motorcycle record, said that focus was the key to being able to keep it together while screaming down a narrow mountain road at speeds in excess of 100 mph. That ability to tune everything out has allowed him to survive the world’s most notorious motorcycle race, the Isle of Man TT, relatively unscathed.
“I have a photo somebody took of me, and I look like I’m staring into the future,” Scaysbrook said. “I’m so laser-focused on what’s going on, you could have said a bomb off behind me, I probably wouldn’t have known.”
Walters’s career as one of the greatest sports gamblers of all time may seem less adventurous than Delgado and Scaysbrook’s—he joked that his life hasn’t been threatened since the mob left Las Vegas—but it still has its risks. He regularly bets sums of money that would give most of us a heart attack on the outcomes of a single game. To do this as successfully as he has, Walters has to ignore the outside world, whether it be the opinions of other gamblers or a bad run of results.
“I’ve been married 47 years, my wife accuses me of going into a trance,” he says. “But that’s the only way I could really do what I do. Because if there were any outside influences, there’s no doubt in my mind, I could have never been successful.”
The preparation that Delgado, Scaysbrook and Walters do also allows each man to trust themselves. And that, more than anything, might be what allows them all to excel. As Walters put it, “I’m continually looking at what I’m doing, to reassure myself that what I’m doing is correct.”